I would be remiss if I did not mention that this week brought the America’s Future Now! conference to Washington, D.C., June 7 – 9 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Every year I swear I’m going to go print up a bunch of business cards with this URL on it and take them to this conference and attend, and every year, I don’t. But, we can take a look at some of the news that’s come out of this meeting of progressive minds.
Dana Milbank reports somewhat breathlessly that, apparently, progressives are angry enough with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to heckle her. Albeit, the heckling sounds like it was pretty damned weird:
Just three minutes into her speechâ€”right after she gave the triumphant news that “Change is here!”â€”two men stood up and spread out a large pink banner in front of the podium demanding “Stop Funding Israel Terror.”
At that moment, a wheelchair-bound woman named Carrie James began to scream from her table about 30 feet away: “I am not going to a nursing home!” At that cue, about 15 people in the crowdâ€”who, like James, wore orange T-shirts demanding “Community Choice Act Now”â€”unfurled bedsheet banners and struck up a chant: “Our homes, not nursing homes!”
Look, I’ve had a chip on my shoulder regarding Madam Speaker since impeachment was yanked off the table in aught-six. Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid.
Milbank paints this as a demonstration of the “unraveling” of the progressive movement somehow. But that’s a rather myopic view. The truth is that, from the “left” in America, a major dynamic we’re faced with in the Obama era is that of party politics versus movement politics, with Pelosi representing the former and staunch progressives understanding more and more that the latter is the only refuge they’ve left. The sobering truth is that the Democratic Party can only take a progressive agenda so far on its own, and that the party as a whole becomes less and less concerned with We the People each year. Look for that trend to worsen dramatically in the next decade as we enter the post-Citizens United decision era.
But it’s not just Pelosi drawing the ire of progressives. These folks are plenty mad at President Obama, too. Which I think is understandable to some extent, though I have to continue to query them as to what in the living hell they expected.
News flash, kids. “Change” and “hope” were terrific marketing bytes for Obama, and they weren’t lies considering the dread and horror foisted upon the American people by the Bush administration. But this guy is not a liberal; he is not a progressive, and he did not run as either one of those things. He did not run on ending our never-ending war. He did not run on all-out universal health care. He did run promising to do something about DADT, but he flat out came out and told Rick Warren that he’s not in support of marriage rights for everybody. We were unable to nominate Dennis Kucinich, the most progressive of the bunch, and we did not nominate John Edwards, who talked a lot more like a progressive than most of them, and thank goodness for that. We elected a moderate. And he is governing moderately. So why are you surprised and would you be happier with a President McCain?
Again, for those of us interested in moving the envelope forward in a dramatic fashion, party politics can only go so far for us. That is the unfortunate reality of American politics. Party politics is ruled by money and is not established in such a way that third-party options can make even a dent. Movement politics may offer a more effective tool for change, but then, it brings out the nut-bars who for some reason think it’s a good idea to heckle the Speaker of the House.
I mean, what do you reckon the chances are that she’ll ever come back to your stupid conference again?
Anyway. Look, kids. That’s politics. Politics is sometimes you, a person, playing tug-of-war with a building. The point though is to keep tugging anyway. Ya know?